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November 21, 2010

Cross Country Set for NCAA Championships Monday

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona University men's cross country team is set for its season finale when they travel to Terre Haute, Ind., for the NCAA Cross Country Championships Monday, Nov. 22. The 10K championship race will begin promptly at 10:48 a.m. MST from the LaVern Gibson Championship Course.

This is the final race for three seniors, Eric Lynch, David McNeill and Jason Pedersen, and Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Eric Heins is thankful for the contributions that the trio has put forth at the national level.

"It has been very enjoyable to be able to watch them grow as great student-athletes," Heins said. "This is the first time that I've had the opportunity to coach a group through all four years. It is the neatest thing to see them go from young unproven freshmen to the leaders of the team."

McNeill, a native of Melbourne, Australia, will close out a career that includes two 5,000-meter national championships, nine All-American awards and numerous academic achievements including the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American of the Year for track & field and cross country.

Both Pedersen and Lynch have been part of Lumberjack teams that have made the podium. In 2007, Lynch was the seventh man for NAU, finishing 201st overall. Pedersen made it to the podium last season as the Lumberjack's fifth scorer, completing the 10K course 95th overall.

Andrew Belus, Diego Estrada, Tim Freriks and Ahmed Osman will also compete Monday afternoon. Both Estrada and Osman collected All-Region honors last weekend in Salt Lake City, Utah, at the Mountain Region Championships, and will be making their second-career appearances at the national meet.

Belus, a native of Phoenix, finished sixth on the team at the championship meet last year and has lowered both his 8K and 10K times this year. It will be the first trip to the national meet for Freriks who placed sixth overall at the Big Sky Championship to garner All-Conference honors.

The Lumberjacks return to Terre Haute with a plethora of NCAA Championship experience. The men have placed in the top 10 seven times since 2000, and have reached the podium four of those seven seasons. Overall, NAU has collected 19 top-20 finishes at the season-ending meet since 1971. The program's highest finish came in 1995 when the team scored 142 points and landed second place.

A live webcast of the championships will be broadcast from 10-11:30 a.m. MST, Monday, on NCAA.com. In addition, highlights from the championships will be included as part of the CBS NCAA Fall Seasonal Show scheduled to air on Saturday, December 18 from 11:00-12:00 p.m. MST on CBS HD.